Demand for food parcels is at an unprecedented level, with the Salvation Army in Whangārei registering an increase of more than 600 per cent compared to the demand pre-Covid-19.
Unlike prior to the lockdown when food parcels were being supplied to families in Whangārei only, Northlanders living in the mid-North and Kaipara are now calling the Salvation Army requesting help with feeding their whanau.
Apart from its emergency foodbank, Salvation Army continues to serve the community with emergency welfare, addiction and housing support services while also observing lockdown protocols. However, it has reiterated earlier messages that Northlanders in need should call the Ministry of Social Development in the first instance, and ask family and friends for help where possible.
Salvation Army Whangārei manager of community ministries Trevor McLean said the food bank on Aubrey St was distributing up to 500 food parcels each week to families in Whangārei, Ruakākā, Dargaville, Waitangi, Kaikohe, and Moerewa.
"This is unprecedented. We've never delivered this many food parcels ever. On average, we were doing 50 to 60 parcels a week in Whangārei only pre Covid-19, so one can imagine the level of demand at present.
"Those living outside of our distribution areas come in and pick up their food parcels from our Whangārei office. We are bulk-delivering them to people in the mid-North and Dargaville to be distributed to the needy families," McLean said.
He said volunteers and Salvation Army staff were able to cope with a substantial increase in demand so far thanks to the generosity of their individual and corporate partners.
A lot of kaumātua and kuia were receiving food parcels, particularly in the mid-North, as well as beneficiaries and those who have lost their jobs as a direct result of coronavirus, he said.
A food parcel consists of rice, flour, tinned veges and fruits, eggs and bread or buns, and can last a family two to three days.
McLean said most of the food parcels were delivered to families in Whangārei, while 120 were for Kaikohe, 90 for Waitangi, and the other areas were supplied 30 parcels each.
Salvation Army is calling on anyone keen to donate to its foodbank to visit www.foodbank.org.nz or call 0800530000.
Non-perishable items can also be placed in purple bins at Countdown Supermarkets.